Most televised game shows are designed to make sure that their contestants never win too many of the big prizes that are available. But every once in a while, a smart contestant figures out a way to not only win, but win big. And in 2008, a man named Terry Kneiss won in front of the many of people watching on TV and in the studio. He did something amazing that seemed impossible to everyone, including the producers of the show...
Terry Kniess, Come On Down!
Something exciting happened to Terry Kniess on a regular episode of "The Price Is Right" in 2008. Terry and his wife, Linda, were happy when he got chosen to be on Contestants' Row. Even when contestants show up to get in the studio audience of the game show, there's a very small chance they will actually get to compete in the game show. He had a big smile, and it wasn't just because of the cameras.
Terry was really good at "The Price Is Right." He was like a champion. Actually, he had been practicing his skills for a long time. First, he worked as a weatherman in Nevada and was very different from other weathermen because he could make really accurate predictions about the weather, and this skill apparently proved valuable in other areas of his life.
A Skill For Predictions
Terry was really good at his job and he was known for his accurate predictions. He did so well that he got promoted to higher-paying jobs and ended up working in Atlanta after a few years. He won two special awards for his work in the early 1990s. But then, he and his wife started missing their home in Nevada. So, they went back and Terry used his unique skills in a different field.
He Had a Surprising Talent
When Terry went back to Las Vegas, he got a job in a special department called casino surveillance. His job was to look for people who were cheating or counting cards in the local casino. Terry was really good at noticing patterns, so even the professional cheaters and card counters couldn't fool him.
He Used His Skills In a New Way
Terry learned about all the sneaky tricks people used to cheat at casino games. He became really interested in it. He even learned how to count cards and got really good at it as well. Terry became better at gambling than people who had been doing it their whole lives. He became a professional gambler just like them, but that wouldn't end up being his long term focus.
He Tried to Get Rich
Terry didn't become rich from playing at casinos, but he did enjoy playing and thought he could win against the casino. However, in 2008, something sad happened to Terry and Linda. It made them change their focus from casino gambling to something a little more unusual.
A New Fixation
After their dog passed away, Terry became very interested in "The Price Is Right." He and Linda were really sad about what happened and didn't know what to do with themselves most days. They felt like they needed something to help them feel better and give them a goal. That's when they decided to start learning everything about "The Price Is Right."
They Studied the Show
Terry and Linda became really good at "The Price Is Right" without ever leaving their home. They wanted to be on the show, so they spent a lot of time learning about all the different prices and patterns of things. They watched the show in the morning and then studied it again at night.
Discovering the Game's Patterns
For four months, Terry and Linda discovered something interesting about the game show. They noticed that the show used the same prizes and prices again and again, over the span of a few years. They learned all the patterns of each of the games played on the show as well as they could and got really excited about the idea of being contestants themselves.
His Familiar Strategy
They weren't going to cheat, exactly. They were going to do something like what Michael Larson did on "Press Your Luck" in 1984. He had memorized the order of the prizes and figured out which flashing squares were always safe. Using this strategy, he won more than $100,000.
Terry Was Called Up
In September 2008, Terry and Linda went to Television City and waited to get into the "Price Is Right" studio. They didn't have any say in who would be picked to play the game, but eventually, announcer Rich Fields called out Terry's name.
He Knew the Exact Price
Terry did really well from the beginning. He had to guess the price of a product called the Big Green Egg, which he knew very well. The high-end kamado grill was a common prize on the show, so it wasn't out of the realm of possibility that he could make an educated guess on its price. Terry impressed everyone by guessing the exact price of $1,175.
The Host Got Suspicious
Terry faced a sterner test next. His Showcase package included a camper, a pool table, and a karaoke machine. His sharp mind quickly added the value of those up to $23,000. Then, for fun, he added 743 — his and Linda's PIN number, or so he said.
He Made An Incredible Guess
Terry looked to the audience before he said his guess out loud. He saw his wife in the crowd and looked to see if she had any advice for him. After taking a look at the crowd, Terry confidently said his answer out loud and to his surprise, no one in the studio reacted very happily to his answer.
The Show Cut to Black
Amazingly, Terry guessed the exact correct answer. He did something that most people thought was impossible. But before they could tell the live audience, Drew Carey took a break for commercials. The producers stopped the episode because they suspected something was wrong, and they were extremely nervous that Terry had accessed information that he was never meant to have.
"The Guy In The Audience"
A producer spoke to host Drew Carey and explained the situation. Carey later said in an interview, "I thought somebody had cheated us, and I thought the whole show was over. I thought they were going to shut us down, and I thought I was going to be out of a job." However, that didn't happen. Carey then talked about a guy named Ted in the audience and how he played an important role. "But that's not what happened," Carey explained. Why? "There was that guy, in the audience. Ted."
Meet Ted Slauson
The person Drew Carey was talking about was named Ted Slauson. Slauson became known in the late 1980s as a very strong contestant on "The Price Is Right." He only played the game once in 1992 and won just $1,000. However, he went to many show tapings and sat in the audience before his opportunity to "come on down." He would call out the right answers for the contestants, and that was allowed in the game.
A Rule Change
In 2002, the rules for who could be a contestant on "The Price Is Right" changed, so people could compete in the game more than once in a lifetime. This allowed Slauson to go to tapings again. In May of that year, he assisted a contestant named Brandon in winning a Ducane gas grill and a car. Brandon thanked him from Contestant's Row, and the cameras showed his happy face. After that, Slauson became known as an expert on "The Price Is Right."
Slauson was at the show that important day when Terry won the Showcase. Before Terry got called to play, Terry and Linda sat next to Slauson in the audience. So, Slauson would have been supporting Terry for sure. Some people wondered if Ted had given Terry secret signals during the game.
Terry insisted that he had never even met the game show expert. He believes he won fair and square because of his own skills. Terry said, "I am happy with my choice," but there were times when he wondered about the outcome. He wished he had guessed a bid of $23,700 instead of being exactly right. Terry explained, "I learned that sometimes being too perfect can be a problem." However, Slauson has a different version of events.
Flaws In His Story
According to Esquire, Slauson pointed out flaws in Kniess' story. He claimed that nobody uses a three-digit PIN number. He also mentioned that the Big Green Egg prize was not featured on the show since Terry and Linda began studying. Slauson said he assisted other contestants in winning during that episode, but his part was edited out when the episode aired for the public to see.
He Whispered His Answer to Linda
In a 2018 article published by the Houston Chronicle, Slauson explained that he used his mental math skills to add up the values of all the prizes in Terry's final Showcase, reaching a total of $23,743. He double-checked his calculation to make sure he was correct. Slauson then shared the answer with Linda, who was sitting beside him. In 2017, a documentary called "Perfect Bid: The Contestant Who Knew Too Much" explored this situation. However, Terry maintained that there was another explanation.
Stricter Rules Are In Place Now
Terry contended that when he appeared to be looking at Slauson in the audience, he was actually looking at his wife. "Maybe we're both correct," he shared with the Houston Chronicle. "Perhaps he called out the price, I guessed it right, and just like that, both of us had the same number." Regardless of the actual truth, Terry eventually received his prizes. As a result, The Price Is Right implemented stricter regulations for its prize packages.
Another Game Show Controversy
Soon after, fans began drawing similarities to another well-known game show controversy. Back in 2001, a married couple named Charles and Diana Ingram were facing significant financial troubles. Months before Charles appeared on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?," Diana had participated on the show and won £32,000. At first, this detail may not have seemed suspicious. However, similar to Terry, Charles had some secrets that were about to be uncovered and shared with the public.
They Didn't Plan On Cheating
At first, it appears that cheating was not their original plan. When the couple came to the set, they believed that Charles had a good chance of winning. However, after a few rounds, it became clear that their expectations were too optimistic.
They Needed a New Strategy
Charles struggled with the initial questions and didn't perform well. He slowly made his way to £4,000, using two of his lifelines along the way. As the day's filming came to an end, it must have become clear to the Ingrams that they needed to come up with a new strategy.
The Perfect Choice
Following the first day of filming, it appears that Diana took it upon herself to seek a solution. She found it in the form of Tecwen Whittock, a college lecturer who Diana had apparently encountered during his participation in various quiz shows. This connection seemingly made him the perfect choice.
They Devised a Plan
It appears that Tecwen had studied the types of unique questions that Millionaire was known for and had aspirations of becoming a contestant himself. Allegedly, the three of them then worked together to come up with a method of secretly communicating the correct answers to Charles without being caught.
What Happened Behind the Scenes
On the next day of filming, Charles arrived on set to find host Chris Tarrant delivering a surprising message from the production team. They didn't expect Charles to last much longer on the show. What happened next surely puzzled Tarrant and the crew observing from behind the scenes.
Read Each Answer Out Loud
According to the supposed plan, Charles was instructed to follow a precise sequence of steps. Once the host presented the question, Charles would read out the answers one by one. Then, Tecwen would supposedly utilize a concealed and economical strategy to unveil the correct answer.
According to the alleged plan, Tecwen was supposed to send Charles a signal when he read the correct answer out loud. Sounds simple, right? However, the signal they supposedly chose was far from discreet.
Interestingly, a sound technician quickly noticed an unusual pattern. Whenever Charles read the correct answer aloud, a mysterious audience member seemed to cough heavily. This participant was identified as Tecwen, who was supposedly involved in the plan. Surprisingly, there was another person coughing in the audience as well.
There have been suggestions that Diana may have been trying to assist Charles by coughing. However, regardless of the audience's actions, it is undeniable that Charles exhibited peculiar behavior during the quiz show while being recorded by the cameras.
A Hesitant Guess
An example of Charles' unusual behavior can be seen in his response to the question about the artist behind the hit U.K. album, "Born to Do It," released in 2000. The correct answer was Craig David, but Charles initially claimed he had never heard of Craig David and then suggested it could be A1 instead. Consequently, the host was understandably intrigued when Charles ultimately selected Craig David.
The Host Accused Him
Charles' response represented a significant change of opinion from just moments before. When Tarrant questioned Charles about his sudden change, Charles simply admitted that most of his guesses tend to be incorrect. This wasn't the only occasion when Charles appeared to be uncertain or inconsistent throughout the show.
During the show, Charles made several remarks such as "I don't know what that is," "I'm certain it's not that," and "I've never heard of that." Surprisingly, he made yet another unexpected decision on his final answer, which turned out to be the correct one, leading to his success in winning the jackpot.
Calm and Collected
Immediately after his extraordinary victory, Charles appeared relatively calm and composed, which was unusual compared to most contestants in the hot seat. Both he and his wife quickly concealed their smiles before being invited to come up on stage. However, it became inevitable that the three of them would face the event once again in a courtroom.
Right after Charles won the £1,000,000 prize, it was withheld from him pending further investigation by the Millionaire producers. They also brought the case to the attention of the authorities. Following a four-week trial in April 2003, the trio of Millionaire contestants was convicted of deception. However, some individuals may have anticipated more severe sentences for their actions.
They Were Sent to Jail
The Ingrams and Tecwen received suspended prison sentences and a substantial fine. However, their time on "Millionaire" was not the end of Charles and Diana Ingram's public presence. In fact, the "Coughing Major" witnessed his notoriety soar to new heights.
They Continued to Appear on TV
Charles received invitations to participate in multiple reality TV shows, such as "Hell's Kitchen" and "Wife Swap," with Diana making another television appearance herself. This led many to speculate that the couple cheated solely for the purpose of gaining media attention. Despite this, the duo continues to assert their innocence to this day. Currently, a TV show could potentially have an impact on their case, either positively or negatively.
The Public's Opinion
Despite the media attention that their case has received, the public doesn't seem to have a problem with their "Millionaire" appearance. Even though they didn't actually get their prize, their appearance probably improved their prospects in the long run, so they were celebrated by some viewers for their tenacious attempt to pull one over on the host and producers. But not everyone felt that way.
Their Story Has Become a Movie
There has even been a miniseries subtly based on the events of the "Millionaire" scandal, similar to the 1994 film "Quiz Show," which chronicled several other game show schedules of the 20th century. Maybe its the fact that these scandals don't happen often that caused them both to get so much attention, but it's clear that there's a lot of interest in the inner workings of game shows and the ways that people try their hardest to win big, even if it means pushing the rules and regulations aside.
They Are Challenging the Verdict
The miniseries titled "Quiz" revolves around the entire Ingram controversy. Over the course of three parts, the jury examines the evidence and discovers there is more complexity to the story than initially believed. On the final day of the show's broadcast, the real Ingrams made an announcement that they were actively working to challenge and overturn their guilty verdicts.
The Truth, For Now
As per a statement from the Ingrams' legal representatives, they highlighted several peculiar anomalies in the recordings that suggest the coughing was purely coincidental. However, to the world's understanding, Charles and Diana remain convicted. That is the current conclusion of their story... for now.